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About the time of the gold rush in California, two sailors jumped ship in Crescent City and discovered gold near Waldo. A small gold rush followed, which populated the Illinois Valley and led to the establishment of a County Seat at Kerby, just north of what is now known as Cave Junction. However, the construction of the railroad, which bypassed the Illinois Valley, led to the establishment of Grants Pass as the major urban center and County Seat.
Elijah Davidson discovered the Oregon Caves while hunting in 1874. During the 1890's, private developers opened the caves as a tourist attraction. In 1909, President Taft, at the urging of Joaquin Miller and other influential men, proclaimed the caves as a National Monument. The State Highway leading to the Oregon Caves intersects the Redwood Highway at Cave Junction. Cave Junction was proclaimed as the "Gateway to the Oregon Caves".
The City of Cave Junction adopted their first Charter in 1946 and became incorporated in 1948. The 1950 U.S. Census counted 283 residents. In approximately 100 years, this site has been transformed from unexplored wilderness to the second largest of two cities in Josephine County. The population has increased six fold since incorporation and Cave Junction has become a governmental and commercial service center for the Illinois Valley.
Carlos Restaurante Cave Junction, Oregon. This was my second time there. We were visiting my in-laws in Selma and celebrating my mother-in-law's birthday. They love this place. And I can see why, it's a fun casual atmosphere, the food is really good and their regular waiter "Kiki" treats them like royalty.
As soon as we were seated in the covered and heated patio, Kiki greeted us with familiar greetings and 3 baskets of chips and salsa. The salsa was terrific; fresh, tasty, and spicy! There were 6 of us at dinner and we had a variety of entrees: enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas, chili rellenos, and a house shrimp, mushroom, and rice dish, that my mother-in-law just raved about. The vegetarian burrito (the one with mushrooms and black beans) also got rave reviews (from a San Francisco mission district burrito connoisseur) - as did everything else on the table. I had a chicken taco and cheese enchilada- and it was full of great robust flavor.
After dinner, I ordered the chimichanga cheese cake dessert and asked Kiki to bring it with a candle. To our surprise, he not only brought the dessert covered in whipped cream, but also a big purple sombrero and a camera. After we all sang "Happy Birthday" he asked my mother-in-law for permission to put a little dab of whipped cream on her nose, then he placed the sombrero on her head and snapped a picture, which they printed and attached to a nice little birthday greeting to take with her. Everyone loved it! Seeing her with whipped cream on her nose and a bright purple sombrero was priceless!!!! (Oh- and the cheesecake chimichanga was out of this world - absolutely sinful!)
Definitely worth the stop if you're in southern Oregon and craving a nice relaxed atmosphere, great service, and really good Mexican food!
120 North Redwood Highway
Cave Junction, OR